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Meaningful Wellbeing

Wellbeing should never be a blanket approach. What’s important to one person, may not fit another.

Wellbeing is personal to each person.

Donna B 2

I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about wellbeing. It feels like the buzz word of the moment.  Schools made it their priority, following the return to on-site teaching, after the various lockdowns. It was deemed essential for the wellbeing of children and staff to be at the absolute forefront of what we were planning.  

And so, it should be. Wellbeing is an essential part of all our lives. It is defined as,  ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.’ It infers wellness, a quality of life. 

So, when I say I have a ‘bit of a thing’ about ‘wellbeing’, it is not wellbeing itself. I do believe that this should have always been at the forefront of what we do, what we all do. Because to be mindful of wellbeing is being mindful of what you, and others around you, need to be happy. In fact, a study by Warwick University found that, ‘Happiness makes people more productive at work’ []. Therefore, focusing on wellbeing should create higher levels of happiness and wellness, which in turn create a rise in productivity. What is not to love about that? 

Why then, does wellbeing so often feel like an afterthought, a tag on, a ‘blanket’ approach, or a tick box exercise. It becomes a box of biscuits, a well-intentioned quote, scheduled mindful moments, a basket of treats, yoga for all, or free pizza when working late. To me, whilst these are all lovely gestures, these are not wellbeing.  These are the outcomes rather than the impact, the gifts rather than the thought.  

The wellbeing of a person is what is good for that person. It is personal to them. We all have unique needs and therefore our wellbeing needs to be met in diverse ways.  For some, and I am referring to those in education here, it might be the chance to take PPA at home, to opt out of school clubs, or to be gifted lieu time if you do clubs. 

It could be a space to pray, a quiet room to plan, brief (on task) meetings, or a time and space to relax and talk. It might be organised exercise, or night’s out, or it could be a bookable day off for that special moment. It could be a million different things.  But the point is, it is personal. It is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. It can never be that. And yet, it so often is.  

We clearly have a long way to go yet in really meeting and addressing the wellbeing needs of others. And like safeguarding, it is the duty of all of us. But I would say that the first step would be to get to know your friends and colleagues just that little bit better, it is about really listening to others, only then will we truly be able to help support them in those little ways that mean so much. Only then will we be able to start to address our wellbeing in a meaningful way.  

Now pass that tin of chocolate biscuits before we squeeze in that yoga session.

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The author

Donna is a primary school teacher in Essex. An early career in administrative and secretarial roles wasn’t fulfilling enough for her and a chance to work as a teaching assistant, when her three boys were young, presented the catalytic moment that saw her retrain as a teacher. Juggling study, work, children and a dog was not easy but she managed to achieve her goal and qualified as a teacher in 2014 aged 40. Her passion for English was noted in her NQT year and she was offered the opportunity to lead Literacy, a position that was also bestowed on her in her current setting along with the offer to start the journey towards Artsmark, weaving its creative heart throughout their curriculum. Promoting reading is an absolute passion and she can be seen regularly immersing her classes in the joy of a text.

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